O’ Fakarava! We return to the South Pass anchorage for internet and sharks! I know, I know, you are probably thinking I’ve lost my mind. Probably true, but not in this instance. The Fakarava South Pass is known all over the world for its amazing Shark Wall and its incredibly diving.
The Fakarava South Pass dive is considered a drift dive which means you drop in at one point and slowly drift to another point. So, we partnered with a few other cruisers who dropped us off at the outer edge of the pass and picked us up on the inside edge of the pass.
We dropped down to 70’ and meandered to the famous Fakarava shark wall! It did not disappoint!
These black tip, white tip, gray, and nurse sharks just swim back and forth and back and forth. The little fish seem to not care one bit that man-eating sharks are in their way!
Sometimes the sharks are curious and come close….
And sometimes they just don’t give you the time of day.
A small octopus was playing hide and seek…
Matt and I snorkel the pass several times. Each time is a new episode in a fascinating series of the underwater world. We still see lots of sharks, but now we focus on all the beautiful fish.
A few sharks who came close enough to check us out. We gave each other the “eye.”
We came across a lot of napoleon fish. They have a large bump feature on their head. These guys are the beasts of the sea. In the top photo you can see how large they are compared to a normal fish. I’d say the largest one we saw was at least 1.5meters long! We also came across a large grouper and trigger (center left), another large trigger (right) and a smaller napoleon (bottom)
I liked to swim close to and under the docks. Matt captured this above and below water photo while I was near one dock.
A school of rays swam by. We were not sure if they were spotted or eagle, but they were gorgeous.
And it appeared to be school day as all the other fish were in schools.
South Pass Beauty
We enjoyed many happy hours at the local dive shop which offered lunch and dinner buffets. We did not eat with them as they were pricey at $30/$35 respectively for buffet of pizza and raw fish. But their happy hours were amazing with a beautiful view of the sunset and sharks.
For the most part, we had absolutely calm conditions to enjoy paddle boarding, swimming, and snorkeling the south pass.
We had many beautiful sunsets and sunrises
We had absolutely lovely weather at the South Pass in Fakarava. No wind, literally no wind, flat seas and sunny skies. We just hung out as there was not enough wind to go anywhere else. Not a hard ship at all.
North Pass – Rotoava (the main village)
Our friends on Agape (Josh and Rachel) were arriving to Rotoava (the main village) soon so we decided to make the downwind sail to town. It was a lovely 35nm sail with our parasail. It surprised us by how fast we made it to the new anchorage. Averaged 7-7.5kts and made the passage in 4 hours.
It had been awhile since we hung out and enjoyed Josh and Rachel! We had a lovely lunch at a pension (hotel) on the water.
The many happy faces of my husband…
Josh and Rachel had a friend visiting, Kelsey. We walked the beaches combing for sea shells and picking up trash. Top photo: Kelsey, Matt, me, Rachel, Josh.
Dinner on Agape with their cat, Gilly.
Rachel and Gilly
A local “takes care” of a few nurse sharks. They come around to his house around sunset for some lovin.
We had an opportunity to pet some beautiful nurse sharks. They felt like sand paper and just enjoyed the soft caress.
It was a lovely visit to Fakarava. But it is time to move on to Tahiti.
Ta Ta to Tahanea was our last blog post (see passage post). Events from this blog occurred in March 2022. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.
After our 5-day passage, we arrive at the Tahanea pass with 4 knots of outgoing current. Not ideal for our incoming arrival. But we power up the engines and make it through the pass with no problems. Yeah us!
Anchoring in Tahanea can be “tricky” as you have to avoid getting your anchor stuck or your chain wrapped around one of the gazillion bommies (little black marks in the photo). In the middle of the photo is shows the pass where you enter the lagoon. You can see there is an outgoing current at the time of the phot.
As we were approaching the Tahanea pass we saw a rather large cruise ship on AIS. Super strange as these are not the “normal” cruising grounds for that type of vessel.
A completely foreign occurrence happened the morning we arrived in Tahanea. Typically, you will only see a small handful of other sail boats here. However, a rather large, 196-meter cruiser ship entered the pass and dropped the hook right behind us! WTF! Seriously, why would you bring tourist here when there are NO services. OMG What is this world coming to?
The cruise ship is called “The World” and it is the world’s largest privately owned yacht. All of the cabins are privately owned (like condos) and evidently you have to be worth over $5M to be considered for a cabin. A 700’ cabin will run you about $300,000. But you will be draped in luxury. Lucky for us, they left around 5:00pm the same day and we had our anchorage all to ourselves again. Matt said it “farts rainbows.”
Boobies, Boobies, and more Boobies
As you know by now, boobies are a type of bird that are super common in French Polynesia. There are red foot, blue foot, and brown foot boobies. And they are all super fabulous
There are lots of nesting motus where the a large variety of birds mate. We enjoy seeing them, but keep our distance so as not to scare them off.
The adolescent boobie (top left) was with a friend and they literally walked or rather waddled up to us. I took the funniest video (check it out on my instagram account).
The boobies in Tahanea nest in the trees and on the ground!
Some of the young adult boobies are super curious. One little guy decided he wanted onboard Sugar Shack!
On one motu we spied these tracks from the water to a spot below a tree. They were turtle tracks – most likely a large turtle like a leatherback! One set of tracks left the momma up to the nest and one set of tracks left her back to the water.
A little Relaxation Station
We head to a motu near the eastern most pass and discover a small village. It is used as a communal area for locals visiting from other atolls. They even built an outdoor seating area.
The anchorages here are simply breathtaking! It is so difficult to express in words so here are a few photos.
And my favorite anchorage, called “7” The reef makes a natural “7” in the lagoon.
Tahanea 7 Anchorage
So very beautiful. Our anchorage near the pass at sunset.
We take our time migrating from Gambier to Tahiti (see migration post). The migration began 25 Feb. in Gambier and ended on 26 March in Tahiti. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.
We have time on our hands as we wait for a weather window and as we wait for storms/squalls to pass. So, we fill those gapes with a few boat projects and general maintenance. Just in case you are wondering, we do work as well as play.
Jib Roller Furler Pin
There is a rather large shackle that holds the tack of the jib to the furler (very important). The pin inside the shackle had weaseled its way out and was almost lost. Thank goodness we caught it. We had to unfurl the jib to release the pressure from the shackle in order to get the pin back into place. Once inside, we zip tied it to secure it. Yes, the bottom shackle is twisted as it is designed to be a 90 degree shackle. Although, we never did understand why there are two shackles here.
Jib roller furler pin
Our sail bag (which holds our main sail) has a panel with “Sugar Shack” stitched on each side. The letters were starting to come off so we decided to take off the two panels and stitch the letters back on. A lot easier said than done. The panels were stitched on to the main sail bag and had an adhesive 2” tape around all four edges. The stitching was rather easy to cut and remove, but the adhesive was a mess.
We removed as much of the adhesive as we could (we did not want the sticky stuff on our sewing machine). Then Matt began the slow process of sewing on each letter.
We had to remove the sail bag in order to sew on the repaired panels.. That is another huge project as we have to secure the main (which weighs in at 300lbs) using the lazy jacks, then remove the sail bag. The sail bag needs some reinforced stitching and then we can put the panels back on.
About a month later, we had calm weather conditions and began the process of removing the sail bag. Matt secured our heavy dacron main using the lazy jacks (the lines that hold up the sail bag). He had to remove the reefing lines and a lot of other stuff to get the sail bag free. I must say hat it looks so naked without the beautiful sail bag!
Matt sewed the sail bag’s weak spots and made a few small repairs before sewing on the two panels. We laid out the sail bag on the deck in order to properly place the panels.
And she is all repaired.
Yes, we have a small wash/dry machine on the boat. It is a 2001 Splendide WDC 1024C. I have to be honest I love it. We don’t use the “dry” portion of the machine as it takes too much energy/power to dry the clothes. The spin cycle is so good that I can hang the clothes in the sun and they will be dry in an hour or two. Having a washer is a true luxury on the boat. Well, frankly anything beats washing clothes in a bucket! The only downside to the washer is that I can only run laundry when we have full sun (it takes a lot of power), full water tank (which means running the watermaker), and light wind (to dry the clothes). It’s a lot to ask of Mother Nature.
But I can usually do a full load of all our clothes every 2 weeks. Of course, we do wear our clothes several days in a row (don’t gross out – we live on a boat!).
There is a small 110v water pump that evacuates the water from the machine. It has been on its death bed for about a year and we keep it limping along. The machine is 21 years old after all. Matt took it apart 8 months ago and fixed the fan that keeps the pump cool. Each time I use the machine I test the fan to ensure it works before starting a new load.
However, during my last load, the machine would not evacuate water. Fiddle sticks! We had to drain the water into a bucket and out the window, spin the clothes, and then remove them. The machine is bolted onto a 1” piece of wood which can’t be removed. So, in order to access the back of the machine, we have to unscrew the wood from the cabinet. This after I remove all the cleaning products from the cabinet of Course.
Splendide WDC1024 Washing Machine
Matt was able to access and remove the small motor (which by the way is no longer manufactured). There are two problems. 1) The seal is broken so there is a small leak from the water pump. We can’t fix this as we would have to destroy the pump to get to the seal and we don’t have a seal replacement.
The other issue is that the fan is moving side to side and it is not supposed to. The bracket that holds the bearing in place (which holds the fan in place) rusted and broke (see 2nd image on right). Hmmm. Well, we can’t get a new bracket or bearing so we improvised. Matt stuck two pieces of pvc behind the bearing to keep it from moving. This is only a temporary fix!
INSERT 5 COLLAGE OF WATER PUMP
We are working with Splendide to find a used water pump for our machine. We found several on eBay but none would fit our old machine. The thought has crossed our mind to buy a new Splendide but all of the new models are too big to fit our small cabinet. Drat! Just our luck, we find one brand new part at an RV parts store. We buy it and ship it to Wayne who is visiting soon. Sweet luck!
Another joy on our boat is our fresh watermaker! We are so darn lucky to have one onboard so we don’t have to retrieve fresh water from shore in jerry cans. We have two pumps on our Spectra watermaker, but one of them decided it had enough of us. Matt tried to repair it and it just won’t have anything to do with us. Lucky for us, we were able to find a replacement and have it shipped to Wayne as well. In the meantime, we are only able to produce 50% of the volume so we are running it a lot more than usual.
The windlass raises/lowers our 100m of stainless steel chain and our 60lb stainless anchor. It is fantastic to have this done with a push of the button as opposed to by hand (can you imagine my biceps if that were the case?). While we were trying to raise the anchor from an anchorage that was 18m deep, the windlass stopped working. It would not go up. Farfignugin!
Matt removed everything from the locker and proceeded to remove the motor. After an hour, he cleaned everything, switched the up with the down (which was working), and put it back together. This way we at least can use it to bring up the heavy chain and anchor. To make it all go down we can do that manually in a controlled free-for-all type process. Not ideal, but a temporary fix.
Matt realized that it was not the motor that was broken, but the relay. We don’t have a spare one of these. So, we get back online, order the part and send it to Wayne. Thank God Wayne is coming!!
Small Boat Projects
I decided we needed a new table runner for our cockpit table. I found beautiful fabric in Papeete and went to work. Of course, Matt had to complicate (and yet improve) my pattern. Not bad for a small project.
The new stand up paddle board is very huge and it has been baking in the sun since we bought it about 2 months ago. We’ve needed to make a cover for it – and now is the time! We had some extra white fabric under the master bed that would work. It is not sunbrella, but it will do for now (at least for the first iteration). The cover fits snugly with a little extra padding on the tip and the side. We left the fins on and the part of the board showing for photo purposes only (smiley face).
Other Completed Boat Projects
Replaced zincs on port prop
Repaired window leaks (port large window, starboard above nav station)
Salon Fan (this is dead and needs to be replaced)
Repaired freezer door trim
Pending Boat Projects:
A boat is always a work in progress (like a house). In addition to the washing machine, watermaker, and windlass, here is a list of a few more outstanding boat projects:
Lazy Jacks – inspect and tighten
Main Sail – repair rub spot (port side stern)
Freezer insulation repair
Repair master bedroom leak
Keep in mind, that our beautiful home is over 21 years old and she has been across many oceans. She is truly in excellent condition for her age and we are continually being praised for her beauty and good condition. So, even though it looks like a lot is broken, it is just “normal” boat projects.
We spend the New Year celebration in Taravai with an authentic Polynesian BBQ in our last blog. Events from this blog post occurred in January 2022. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.